If you haven’t seen Where The Wild Things Are and don’t want to read anything about the plot, please skip this post.
I just got back from the 10:00 AM showing of Where The Wild Things Are. It’s GOOD, but not GREAT. As I watched the movie, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between the story line and what I’m seeing in the social media space. OK, I realize right now you’re thinking, “he’s lost it, what can a children’s story possibly have to do with social media?”
Well, glad you asked. Let me break it down. The island that Max (little boy, with no experience) sails to is inhabited by monsters. The monsters are a dysfunctional group, looking for leadership. Seriously. They believe that Max is the king they’ve been looking for who will solve all of their problems, bring the group of monsters together, and offer ever lasting happiness. I’m not making this up. We later learn that Carol (James Gandolfini’s character), the bullish leader, has killed all the previous kings – because they failed to deliver the goods.
At first, the monsters want to eat Max…that’s just what they do. But, Max tricks them into thinking he:
- Was previously a conquerer and king of vikings
- Knew magic
- Could make their heads explode if he so chose
- Would bring them complete happiness
Pretty powerful promises from a kid. But, he delivers his speech in a passionate well-spoken way that has everyone, especially Carol, believing he can deliver the goods.
Think about this situation. We have a kid that’s 1/10 the size of monsters with claws, who could if they chose to kill the kid, buying into the crap he’s shoveling. Starting to sound familiar? You know, familiar as in, “I’ll get you on the first page go Google.”
So, they put Max in charge. Yeap, he’s the king and his first order of business is to “let the wild rumpus start!” That’s followed up by several seemingly good ideas like building a fort, that ultimately completely backfire, frustrate the monsters, and have Carol wanting to kill Max. Yes, kill him. Although, can you blame him after Max sold him a bag of goods, presented himself as an expert, and promised to fix everything…but then failed to do anything he said and was uncovered as not being a former king or expert.
By the end of the movie we learn that everybody knew Max was full of it, but since Carol so passionately believed in Max, they followed suit. This was very “The Emperor’s New Clothes” like. No one wanted to tell the emperor (aka Carol) that he was wrong.
It’s fascinating and of course so similar to the social media landscape today. So called social media experts, claim some type of relevant experience, promise the world, wow the de-facto leader (e.g. CMO, head of marketing, client, conference organizer, etc.), outline a variety of tactical recommendations (e.g. build a fort), but ultimately FAIL to deliver the goods. Maybe, that’s because all of these social media experts are just little kids pretending to be grownups.
Unfortunately, in the real world, we can’t deal with our posers the way Carol would. We can’t eat them.